Communication Is Everything
Communication is a vital part of all our lives and often so very subtle. Most of us won't think that communication is how close we tend to stand next to strangers, yet that is a form of non-verbal communication. We communicate or use language (verbal and non-verbal) all the time. Without necessarily thinking about it, you modify your language and communication to suit different situations.
This unique activity of giving birth requires unique and specific communication skills. During labor, a woman's mind and senses will be very acute, and the slightest noise, smell, touch, thought, or tone of voice can have a huge impact. It is vital that everyone maintains effective communication throughout the birthing process, no matter what is happening to you or around you. To do so requires learning specific skills about the following:
- Your ability to communicate with each other as a team.
- Your ability to communicate with your birth providers as you use your skills.
It also requires you to be skilled with your inner dialogue—both women and men have this going all the time (see Positive and Negative Voice). These communication/language skills will help you develop your Birth Plans, enabling you to articulate the visions you have of your forthcoming birth day and of what skills you're learning and plan to use in front of your birth provider. In other words, the conventional Birth Plan is a communication about what you want or don't want from them, while your skills-based Birth Plan is a communication to yourselves and your birth provider about what you'll "do" and what they will see you "do."
Childbirth is also LOADED with words that have not been defined well or seem to mean one thing but imply another. And of course we all know that effective communication is often as difficult as it is important. In this Birthing Better with The Pink Kit Method® module, both of you will learn about the language and communication that are specifically suited for your birthing and coaching roles.
- using short sentences,
- being very specific, and
- using non-verbal options.
Working through the resistance
One young father casually began The Pink Kit package with his partner, who was very put off by doing these exercises. They were a very "alternative" couple, planned a home birth in water, and strongly believed that birth was natural and she would just know how to birth on the day. As a man, he believed that "Birth was woman's business" and that he certainly didn't need to learn anything. He was bored and resentful about doing exercises that taught specific common language. The Pink Kit made the woman cry, because she really didn't want to learn anything. But for some reason, they didn't just put it down.
As she learned about her own body, she began to feel much more confident, and they grew closer as a couple as she showed her partner what she was learning. This inspired and interested him. He came to realize that he hadn't thought too much about his role other than to be a support, and that he had no clue what that really meant. They learned lots of the body skills, but sort of skimmed through the Communication resource.
She had a very, very quick labor (under three hours). It was very intense right from the start. She needed a lot of eye contact, which he recognized as a form of non-verbal communication. He realized she needed to stay in contact with him as the pains ebbed and flowed. He also found that, at certain times in each contraction and between, she wanted him to tell her to "Stay open, soften inside, direct your breathing." She'd signal him when to start and stop. He followed her lead.
After the birth, he commented on how significant it had been to use this common language—they had both known what he was talking about, and he could see how much it helped her.
Even though they hadn't thoroughly practiced the exercises during pregnancy, they had learned enough to recognize how to use their common language within their team. You might think that it is very picky to do so many exercises to learn these new skills. You might think that they focus on very small and insignificant bits. But in your hobbies or occupation, you know you first learned by paying attention to big details within the big picture and then by refining those big details into smaller ones. You might also have recognized your clumsiness at first. As your skills grew, you relaxed. Eventually, you could adjust your skills and developed a sense of mastery.
As with all the other Birthing Better Pink Kit resources, the more you learn, the more connected you will feel. You'll also know you have skills to use. Many times these resources refer to "labor," which is what you won't have. But both you and women who labor will give birth. This means your "labor" will be the day before your surgery as you prepare and continue on your way to the hospital. If you are admitted the night before the surgery, that's when your labor starts. Certainly, many women who labor will do so at home for many hours before they go to the hospital or have their midwife come, and going to the hospital is an equally defined timeframe; that means you can use this time as your labor.
Once you're in the hospital, the birth providers will admit you and do very similar assessments, monitoring, and procedures as would happen with a woman in labor. The only difference is she has to cope with them while having contractions at the same time she is trying to communicate. This means, in some ways, you are actually in a better position than laboring women to use your skills to focus on what is happening, because you don't have the distraction of labor pain.
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